Third-Party Candidates Want In On Debates, With Mixed Results
Bruce Majors is used to being left out.
After all, the Libertarian mayoral hopeful knows that third parties are often excluded from mainstream politics. But Majors’ party has the guaranteed ballot access that comes with being deemed a "major party," so when mayoral debates and forums are billed as just "mayoral," rather than for Democratic mayoral candidates only, he wants in.
Majors says there are a few debates he hasn’t been invited to or hasn’t been able to attend, including American University’s on Feb. 12. After seeing an ad promoting the forum, Majors tried to get invited, only to find out that the debate was limited to Democrats. His efforts earned Majors only a small victory—future ads, according to an AU spokesman, will be clearer.
Majors isn't the only one who sometimes has a tough time getting onstage. Eugene Puryear, a D.C. Statehood Green hoping for his party's at-large D.C. Council nomination, has a little experience being left out, too. Last month, Puryear and G. Lee Aikin, his rival for the Greens' nomination took matters into their own hands at the forum hosted by DC for Democracy and crashed the at-large debate.
Puryear says he worries about smaller parties being "ghettoized," and wants to make sure people have the opportunity to be informed about everyone in the running.
“I think it sort of creates a distinction that doesn’t need to be there,” Puryear says.
Majors, at least, will get his wish. The ACLU's District branch, the D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, and the American Institute of Architects all tell me that Majors is welcome at their mayoral forums.
Mission accomplished. Next up: getting elected in a town with 193 Libertarians and 336,779 Democrats.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery